Nudges in MyAnalytics

Microsoft is adding small coaching nudges to Outlook – on the Web shortly, in Outlook for Windows during 2018, and perhaps sometime for Outlook on Mac, iOS and Android.

These nudges are:

… useful suggestions, tips, and best practices around managing email and running meetings. They help inform and guide you in making effective email and meeting decisions. They can also help you to reclaim focus hours and build better collaboration habits, in addition to other practical benefits.

The initial categories of nudges are about:
– getting more time to focus, e.g., to book time for focused work
– reducing unnecessary time in meetings, e.g., by sending someone else
– keeping track of commitments, e.g., outstanding to-do items, other unread email from a given person
– reducing after-hours work and team impact, e.g., by signaling urgency levels on emails sent out of hours

As I said yesterday, these are good, small, positive steps in the right direction for cultivating more productive habits.

I hope Microsoft adds more capabilities to these nudges over time. For example:

  • For reducing unnecessary time in meetings – the nudge could also be about other fundamentals of effective meetings, like the necessity of a strong agenda. For example, “there’s no clear agenda for this meeting; ask for one to be created” could be a nudge. Or if the person’s role in the meeting is just about hearing information, the nudge could be “request access to the meeting notes after the meeting.” Perhaps a meeting doesn’t require the original invitee or any delegate to attend at all.
  • For reducing after-hours work and team impact – the nudge should include the option for holding the message for delivery until the recipient starts work on their next business day. Outlook already has a delayed delivery capability; this could be leveraged as part of the nudge. And rather than nudging every time, this could be a configurable setting in Outlook – that messages are always delivered at the start of each recipient’s business day (for one-to-one emails).

And clearly these nudges should be in many other places in Office 365 – Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Planner and more – but Microsoft has to start somewhere, and Outlook is a good enough place to start.

Finally, this is interesting from the perspective of adoption and effective use of Office 365. In the workshop I just linked to, I talk about focusing on cultivating the human behaviours that underlie the use of tools (e.g., in Extending Effective Use, the section called Train on Core Behaviours, where my conclusion is “When the capabilities of tools outstrip the capabilities of people to act/behave in the best way, tool usage is ineffective”). These nudges aren’t about standard training tips on how to use the software, but rather about advanced behavioural habits on how to use the software capabilities effectively.

I’m jazzed to see where MyAnalytics Nudges and the wider Workplace Analytics solution goes.

Workplace Analytics for Teams

In the chapter on Running Team Projects in my book Re-Imagining Productive Work with Office 365 (2016), I made the following “wouldn’t it be cool if” comment (page 197):

Delve Analytics reports on an individual level about the effectiveness and efficiency of the meetings that the individual was involved with during the past week. Wouldn’t it be cool if the analytics capabilities in Office 365 could report on the effectiveness and efficiency of the activities undertaken in running a given team project over the previous week—highlighting meetings that were or were not effective (along with reasons for that conclusion and recommended mitigations), timeliness to complete tasks, and suggestions for other people to involve in the project as well. Delve Analytics at an individual level is good; at a team project level it would be fantastic. While Microsoft undoubtedly has its own research to draw on for such analytics, it would be worth reviewing Google’s research on itself on what makes a perfect team.

Microsoft hasn’t announced the above capabilities in what’s now called Workplace Analytics, but it has announced some new team level capabilities that are good forward steps. Specifically (from July 12):

… we are introducing solutions to help turn organization-wide insights into action plans for individuals and teams. The first solution—Workplace Analytics solution for teamwork—helps teams build better collaboration habits and master their time by guiding organizations through three steps:

1. Discover collaboration challenges – Use data from everyday work in Office 365, like emails and meetings, to discover challenges like meeting overload, minimal time for focused work, or high after-hours workload. Combine these insights with engagement survey results to find connections between work patterns and indicators of team health like engagement and innovation scores.

2. Empower teams to change — Enroll teams in change programs to help them build better habits like bringing agendas to meetings and blocking time for daily focused work. Participants receive personal productivity insights and action plans powered by MyAnalytics.

3. Measure and improve — Make sure your change programs are successful by measuring progress against goals over time. Iterate and improve as you see which action plans succeed or fail in changing teamwork habits.

The data signals that are available from step 1 are critical and define what is possible in steps 2 and 3; what’s captured will shape the proposed remedies or changes. Given that the data collected is quantitative – about meetings held, meeting length, emails sent and received and read (and when), etc. – rather than qualititative (the meeting was productive, the email answered the question, the email created greater clarity to enable better action) – there’s clearly still a whole lot of scope for improving the signaling quality available for Workplace Analytics to do its magic … and therefore reshape collaboration and productivity patterns in team and organisational life.

Small steps in the right direction taken repeatedly lead to great destinations. The above doesn’t deliver on the destination I’m imagining yet, but it’s in the right direction.

Unified Endpoint Management – and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security

Gartner published its latest analysis of the Unified Endpoint Management market late last week, with VMware, Microsoft, IBM, BlackBerry, and MobileIron ranked as the leaders. Microsoft continues to improve its capabilities and cadence in this space, being listed as the second-to-top leader. And it is trending in the right direction over time. As Brad Anderson, Corporate VP of Enterprise Mobility + Security at Microsoft says:

Since the last 2017 Gartner Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) MQ was published, we have added more than 10M new devices under Intune management. There are now more than 135M PCs and mobile devices being actively managed by ConfigMgr and Intune. THAT is Unified Device Management – and that usage number is growing by more than 3M every month!

Microsoft’s key offering is Enterprise Mobility + Security, which combines device management, more advanced Azure Active Directory capabilities (such as conditional access), data protection (via Azure Information Protection), the full Microsoft Cloud App Security, and more. Enterprise Mobility + Security (or EMS for short) is available as a standalone subscription from Microsoft, or in conjunction with Office 365. It is also one of the three core capabilities in the Microsoft 365 bundles – for Business and Enterprise customers. The other two are Office 365 and Windows 10. The highest Office 365 plan you can purchase is Enterprise E5, but when you look at the details, there are capabilities missing that an additional subscription to Enterprise Mobility + Security E5 covers (either directly, or for better combined value, as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription). In my head, I think of Microsoft 365 as basically an Office 365 E6 or E7 plan, but that’s my name for it, not Microsoft’s.